Mark Johnson, March Coordinating Editor
Welcome Friends one and all to the new online format of The Australian Friend.
Since its inception in 1887 The Australian Friend has undergone a variety of formats, and it is with much excitement and enthusiasm that the editorial panel offers the official journal of Quakers Australia in a new online format. We look forward to exploring the potential of this new media.
Earlier this year we saw the successful event of Yearly Meeting 2012 in Perth. Many of the articles within this inaugural online edition of The Australian Friend are given to the content of this Meeting. They range from Lyndsay Farrall’s review of David Atwood’s Backhouse lecture, to the writing of welcome visitors such as Sue Reynolds from Aotearoa/New Zealand Yearly Meeting on impressions gained whilst at Perth. Reflections also from old and young Friends, and of course the Epistles of the Yearly Meeting to list but a few.
The publication is free, and, as you will see, there are many and diverse articles to savour and enjoy. Informative, speculative, creative, and some inspired; each article in its own way opening us to the witness of Quaker vision, and allowing us opportunity to engage with the varied voices of Quaker experience. Do notice also that at the base of each article is space for you to comment and engage with others in discussion. The journal also invites Letters to the Editor. We encourage you to be actively part of your journal.
Sure, it’s great to be passively informed, but your comments and discussion are as much a part of The Australian Friend as the range of articles which currently embody it. So do register with The Australian Friend and be part of the high quality and respectful discussion, some of which has already begun.
One of the other advantages of the online format is the opportunity presented for outreach. We want others to know about the diversity of Quaker witness, and now because of the online format we have an international audience which can readily ‘listen’ to the concerns and projects here in Australia.
In the words of our Handbook our core purpose is to ‘keep Friends in touch with activities of the Society and each other, to share spiritual insights and practical concerns, and to stimulate awareness of the wider witness of Quakers in Australia and beyond’. This is a broad brief and in accordance with it we have also initiated Quaker Voice to support our outreach beyond Australia, thereby freeing up The Australian Friend for focus on activities in the Society and the spiritual enrichment of Australian Quakers. For more information about Quaker Voice please see QuakerVoice.org. We also hope that our new online format will be used to make contact with and support the growth and concerns of isolated Friends.
The journal is published by the Australian Friend Committee which was appointed at Australia Yearly Meeting 2012. Members of the Committee are Wiess Schuiringa, Ian Hughes and John Michaelis. The Committee members have been joined by Gary Duncan, Geoff McLean, and Mark Johnson to form the Editorial Panel, which takes responsibility for the quality and content of each issue.
We will continue to publish articles about Quaker life, wisdom and spirituality, and book reviews, poetry and other contributions. Some regular items such as upcoming gatherings and events are managed through free classified ads. Members and Attenders are also invited to use the classifieds for personal notices and announcements which may be of interest to Friends and others. We welcome articles from you and have a team of ready and able sub-editors to assist. Sometimes you will find it of great assistance to be shaping your article with the input given by another’s perspective. Don’t be shy, our sub-editors are here to help if needed, and will do so with a gentle expertise and respect.
Support and help for readers and contributors can be found at support.AustralianFriend.org.
This leads me to offer heartfelt thanks to The Australian Friend Editors, Committee Members and many other volunteers who have given their time and effort for this first online issue to reach publication. Your efforts are very much appreciated, and we hope that you are as happy with the results as we are.
The Australian Friend does need more volunteers, especially a Web Monkey (one or more); a Social Networks Coordinator (e.g. Facebook, GooglePlus); a Moderator for comments, and Sub-editors for ‘Quaker Voice’. If you feel that you are able to lend assistance in these or other areas do use the ‘Contact’ link in the black menu bar above.
We have received a number of requests to post links to interesting web sites, online videos and so on. We would be happy to receive 300-500 word reviews of web sites or other online resources, but we think a link with a short message is better suited to social media platforms such as Facebook or GooglePlus. Maybe there are Friends who would be interested to promote an Australian Friend Facebook page or GooglePlus Circle? If so please let us know.
Not by way of closure but rather by way of welcome, the well-loved words of Isaac Pennington come to mind at this moment, words which I’ll adapt for need of inclusiveness: ‘The end of words is to bring us to the knowledge of things beyond what words can utter.’ May the diverse words of the community of The Australian Friend continue to lead us to that same knowledge.